Sunday History Photo / WA

Submitted: Sunday, Apr 26, 2015 at 09:22
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The Perth tramway network served Perth from the end of the nineteenth century until 1958.
According to one source, the central city terminus of the short lived horse tramway was the General Post Office, which was then located within the Treasury Building, at the corner of St Georges Terrace and Barrack Street. The outlying terminus was said by the same source to be in East Perth. However, it now seems that, in fact, there was never a horse tram provided for the carriage of passengers in Perth.

Rather, there was – it is believed – a horse tramway which ran from quarries just north of the city to the construction site of Government House situated in St Georges Terrace. For how long the horse tramway survived is not known, nor its exact route, as information has not yet been found, although research continues. It is known, however, that a horse omnibus system did exist
Perth's first electric tram network was inaugurated in 1899. It linked Perth's central business district with many of its inner suburbs, especially on the north side of the Swan River, but was wound down from 1949, and closed in 1958. It had a maximum street mileage of over 30 miles in the 1930s.
The network operated under 35 route numbers, on various lines extending from Osborne Park in the north to Como and Welshpool in the south, and from Claremont in the west to Welshpool in the east.

Some of the trams from the first Perth network are now preserved by the Perth Electric Tramway Society, at its heritage tramway in Whiteman Park, in the outer Perth suburb of Caversham.

The Fremantle Municipal Tramways began operations in 1905. The network expanded into North Fremantle in 1908, and into Melville in 1915. The North Fremantle line closed in 1938 and was replaced by diesel buses. The rest of the network reached its peak usage during World War II.

After World War II, the system operated quite profitably for the Council. However, the decision of the Western Australian State Government to nationalise the southwest electricity systems from private and council ownership to the newly formed State Electricity Commission in the early 1950s meant that the price of power to the trams increased markedly, to the extent that supply was extremely costly to the Council.
As a result, and without any fanfare at all, the whole system was closed after the last tram ran into the Carbarn in Queen Victoria Street on a Sunday night in November 1952.
Some of Fremantle's former trams are now preserved by the Perth Electric Tramway Society, at its heritage tramway in Whiteman Park, in the outer Perth suburb of Caversham

A total of 36 trams entered service on the Fremantle tram network between 1905 and 1939. Most of them remained in service until 1949 or later. Unlike their Perth counterparts, the various classes of Fremantle tram were not officially allocated any class designator code. Each individual Fremantle tram was officially identified only by its unique number.
Most Fremantle trams fell into two main classes, with a small transitional group in between.
The first main Fremantle tram class, made up of tramcars 1 to 19, 24 and 25, was of single truck, drop end, open California combination tram cars. They entered service between 1905 and 1914.
The second main class of Fremantle tram was made up of tramcars 26 to 36. They were bogie saloon cars, and entered service between 1921 and 1939.
The dominant colour in the livery of every Fremantle tram was a shade of maroon. The single truck tramcars were also lined with pinstripes, and the bogie trams also painted a cream colour at window level. By Australian standards, Fremantle trams were generally well maintained, right up until the closure of the Fremantle network.
The final new Fremantle tramcar, number 36, was also the last new tramcar to be built for a Western Australian tram network.Together with Fremantle tramcars 14, 28 and 29, it is now preserved by the Perth Electric Tramway Society, at its heritage tramway in Whiteman Park.

Some other locations in WA that operated Trams,

Broome was established as a pearling port in 1880. A horse-drawn tramway was constructed in 1898, for the transport of goods from the jetty at Mangrove Point to the town, and by 1904 a passenger car was in use. Originally built to the 2 ft gauge, the tramway's success led to its regauging in 1907 to 3 ft 6 in, and a passenger car to that gauge was then provided.

Horses were replaced by steam in 1910, petrol and diesel engines being introduced later. The line was finally closed with the establishment of a new deepwater port some miles away from Broome in 1966, the passenger service having already ceased some years earlier.

The Derby tramway was established in 1886. It travelled about 1 mile from the jetty and over extensive mudflats before reaching the town, and continued for a slightly greater distance through the town itself, along the main street. Except on the L-shaped jetty, the line was straight for its whole length.
Unlike most of the coastal tramways, Derby had a gauge of 3 feet 6 inches from the beginning. It was horse powered originally, internal combustion engines being used later - steam was not employed at any stage. The two lightweight passenger cars were eventually replaced by heavier wagons.

By the way.... when I was in Germany 2013 I spent a week with a Facebook friend inthe City of Nurnberg, most people like model trains but Erwin likes Trams, he proudly showed me his set up especially the Adelaide Tram, the Tram with the yellow front. I look forward to seeing his set again this coming July.

A modern light rail line was announced for Perth in 2012 for completion in 2018.

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Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Sunday, Apr 26, 2015 at 09:29

Sunday, Apr 26, 2015 at 09:29
Thanks Doug

Another interesting read

AnswerID: 552943

Reply By: Member - Ian F (WA) - Sunday, Apr 26, 2015 at 10:44

Sunday, Apr 26, 2015 at 10:44
Thank you Doug,
As usual a lot of information of which you have to be congratulated for.
AnswerID: 552946

Reply By: rocco2010 - Sunday, Apr 26, 2015 at 10:47

Sunday, Apr 26, 2015 at 10:47
ThankS Doug

I am just old enough to remember riding Perth's trams.

Sadly your last bit of info has been overtaken by events. Plans for new light rail in Perth are well and truly on hold and construction won't start for some time time, let alone be finished in 2018.


AnswerID: 552947

Reply By: Australian Landscape Jewellery - Sunday, Apr 26, 2015 at 11:44

Sunday, Apr 26, 2015 at 11:44
Thanks Doug, those are wonderful photos that really bring back memories. I used to live out in Bedford Park and used the trams that ran along Beaufort street all the time.
AnswerID: 552948

Reply By: member - mazcan - Sunday, Apr 26, 2015 at 11:53

Sunday, Apr 26, 2015 at 11:53
hi doug
thanks for the memories
i clearly remember riding on the trams 1951-53 and my mum had 3 of us at the time i was 4 and older sister 7 and had to get our baby sister out of the pram and hold her while hanging the pram on the hooks at the front together with shopping and her h/bag and then get us all to our seat it wasn't easy for mother but the drivers were patient and waited not like the systems of today
mum is 100 in september this year and also clearly recalls the hasles of riding trams with kids in tow
cheers barry
AnswerID: 552951

Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Sunday, Apr 26, 2015 at 14:28

Sunday, Apr 26, 2015 at 14:28
Yes Barry, likewise here when a kid I rode the Trams with Mum in Adelaide.

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Follow Up By: get outmore - Monday, Apr 27, 2015 at 09:08

Monday, Apr 27, 2015 at 09:08
as you know the adelaide tram is not only still going but is now extended
i last caught it a few years ago and its far more than a tourist attraction but still remains a vital piece of transport infrastructure

it had however lost its charm being the new one like in your model from germany
the ones i remember catching as a kid in the 80s from boarding school to the Bay was more like the one with Emu Export down the side
I guess they were diesel / electric (not that I care much back then) as sometimes a motor would run although it obviously didnt run the tram and other times it was silent running on electricity
FollowupID: 838718

Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Monday, Apr 27, 2015 at 09:49

Monday, Apr 27, 2015 at 09:49
Thanks Outmore, actually I was not aware of any extensions made in Adelaide, Back in the 40's and 50's Adelaide had a good system running, then like sheep all the State Governments followed each other and got rid of the Trams (big mistake) ummm Melbourne was not a sheep.
I did a SHP on Adelaide Trams back on Sunday, Sep 14, 2008 but it was not very informative, I might look at an Adelaide re visit sometime in the future, Trams are very popular in most German cities and was good to see and ride them, also good to see is the Gold Coast and Sydney slowly bringing back the Trams.

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Reply By: Member - Ups and Downs - Monday, Apr 27, 2015 at 08:16

Monday, Apr 27, 2015 at 08:16
In the photo showing the laying of tram lines in Fremantle it is interesting to see the timber blocks that once were used in road construction.

I still have one I collected from Perth during road repairs.

AnswerID: 552976

Follow Up By: rocco2010 - Monday, Apr 27, 2015 at 13:31

Monday, Apr 27, 2015 at 13:31

They used to say the streets of London were paved with gold. The reality was that a lot of them were paved with WA's famous hard wood Jarrah.

Jarrah was exported to many countries for use as road paving as well as railway sleepers and structural timber.

I can remember seeing jarrah blocks at road works in Central Perth in the late 50s, probably about the time they were ripping up the tram tracks .

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